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Lesson 3) The Magical Congress of the United States of America

The professor was sitting at her desk, feet lazily swung onto it, as the students began to file into the classroom. However, as the students shuffled in, they did not see anyone at the desk. Quietly chuckling, she watched everyone get sorted before canceling the Disillusionment Charm and popping out of the chair. “Welcome back, everyone!” She exclaimed before laughing loudly, smiling as laughter joined her own. 

Alright, alright, calm back down everyone. I thought some laughter might wake you all up after a long day. Everyone completed their Scouring the Scourgers essay last week, yes? Take it out and place it on your desk, it’s time for some questions on your work! What was your solution to keeping track of Scourers in the 13 colonies? 

Yes, Astrid! The Professor pointed toward a Ravenclaw in the back, who responded. “You could use a spell similar to the Trace for the known Scourers? Maybe something that could be unknowingly transferred between them during meetings?” An interesting concept, certainly! Magus, what was your solution for recognizing Scourers? The Gryffindor student looked surprised at the sound of his name, but answered. ”I, uh...you could look for some kind of marking? Like the Dark Mark?” A good idea, but what if they didn’t have one? Final question goes to... Jareth! How would you decrease Scourer activism? “Work with the Muggle government to pass legislation that prevents protests about “fanciful” things?” Hmm, well preventing protests comes with its own problems, and there wasn’t exactly cooperation between the magical and Muggle government, but all interesting possibilities.

But enough review, buckle up, everyone, we are going to learn about the Magical Congress of the United States of America today. You'll notice for the next few lessons we focus on a specific country of the Americas, rather than a general overview, but we'll return to our treatment of other countries in later lessons. Trust me, you wouldn't want to sit through a whole year where I explain the history of every single ministry and governing body in both North and South America (though I would greatly enjoy teaching it). 


Tragedy of the New World

Last week we mentioned a few difficulties witches and wizards from Europe may have faced when they journeyed across the Atlantic to come to the Americas. Though Scourers were, and still are, a problem, they faced other obstacles that are just as important to comment on. Due to the fragmented wizarding community across the 13 colonies, wizardkind faced the prospect of life without many of the amenities you and I are used to. Consider this for a moment. As a student at Hogwarts you can go to Diagon Alley to find everything you need for the upcoming year. Ollivanders provides you wands, Flourish and Blotts has your required textbooks, Potage’s Cauldron Shop and Slug and Jigger’s Apothecary have all the necessities for potion making. 

Unfortunately, in the Americas such luxuries did not yet exist. There were no established wandmakers, unknown and often unrecognizable plants, animals, and potential potion ingredients, and no safe area for young witches and wizards to train (as wizarding schools in the Americas were unrecognizable as the institutions they are today had not yet developed).

The strict religious beliefs of the Puritans also made the Americas significantly less enjoyable than European wizarding communities. Puritan beliefs were completely intolerant of any form of magic and they were all too happy to accuse each other of occult activity with little to no evidence, which caused the magical community in the Americas to be extremely cautious. This also paved the way for one of the most horrific events in North American wizarding history: The Salem Witch Trials. Now, I won’t be spending a significant amount of time discussing the Salem Witch Trials, as we have discussed it in previous years and I’m sure you recall the gruesome events and unfortunate loss of life that occurred.

 In addition to the death toll, the Salem Witch Trials caused many witches and wizards to flee from America and kept some others from locating there. Most notably, this included many pure-blood families. These families, who were usually well-connected and heard the stories from the Americas about the Scourers and Puritans, were not terribly keen to settle there. This is not to say it didn’t happen, but even to this day, there is a distinct trend in ratios between pure-blooded families, Muggle-borns, and the catch all “other” category, half-bloods. In comparison to the populations of Europe, Asia, and Africa, there is quite the difference in favor of higher percentages of mixed families in the Americas -- even with the later installation of Rappaport’s Law… but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Magical Congress of the United States of America

Due to the horrors and prejudice induced by the Salem Witch Trials, many witches and wizards globally, but primarily in the Americas, believed that wizardkind would only be able to live peaceful lives underground (figuratively or even literally) where no Muggle could detect them. Though this was a popular belief, a number of witches and wizards strongly disagreed and wanted to have normal - or as normal as possible for our kind - above the ground. Thus, the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) was established in 1693 as a direct result of Salem. MACUSA in its infancy held a structure similar to the Wizards’ Council. This should come as no surprise for a number of reasons. Primarily, the function of the Wizards’ Council in Great Britain was to establish a form of order, and to govern the wizarding community, which became increasingly important after the creation and signing of the International Statute of Secrecy. In a similar manner, the original form of MACUSA was tasked with protection of the wizarding community in America. 

Originally, MACUSA was simply a group that consisted of 12 aurors who gathered together in an effort to seek out Scourers, put them on trial, and serve justice for betraying their fellow witches and wizards. Though not part of the original 12, one individual was chosen to lead MACUSA in their endeavors and who better than someone who had been born in Salem, Massachusetts and understood the terror, pain, and difficulties that magical folks in the Americas faced. Josiah Jackson was born in 1662 to Alia and Ronald Jackson and lived there for the majority of his life. Though some of the other Aurors were also born in America, Josiah was elected by his fellow representatives because of his personality and assistance in the Salem Witch Trials. Known as the “witch thief,” Jackson would often come to the aid of his wizarding brethren when they were being burned at the stake or drowned.


One such story tells of Mary Jauncey, one of the original twelve aurors, who was saved by Jackson after being thrown into a lake outside of Salem when she was accused of witchcraft by her cousin. Jauncey describes being thrust into the lake without her wand and attempting to cast the Bubble-Head Charm while underwater, but found her incantation pronunciation was muddled, which caused the already difficult spell - due to not having a wand- to fail. Jackson, who had met Jauncey before the origin of MACUSA, heard the commotion and quickly arrived to find his friend under the water. Hiding in a grove of trees nearby, Jackson cast the Bubble-Head Charm on her as she was sinking to the bottom of the lake. He remained nearby to hold the charm until the judges and mass of people scrambled to pull her out since she had sunk. Afterwards, he offered to take her to his home where she recovered, but retained symptoms of water inhalation for many years after. 

In order to combat the Scourer problem, President Jackson had to recruit and train additional aurors, which led to the first department of MACUSA, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (DMLE). Though the original Aurors have long since passed away, their names hold a special place in United States’ wizarding history and their descendants are given significant respect and have remarkable influence within MACUSA and the American wizarding society as a whole.

 

Once the Scourer problem had been alleviated, another problem presented itself and became a secondary goal under Jackson’s presidency, but more on that in a minute. If you’ll recall from our last lesson, a number of wizarding criminals travelled to America over the years due to the lack of wizarding governance, but the high numbers of criminals significantly decreased under Jackson. Nowadays, MACUSA has regulations that require wizarding criminals from Europe to register with them, which allows a record to be kept of those who made their way to the Americas. If criminal activities do not continue, as many came to the Americas to start fresh, nothing further comes of it. However, if a witch or wizard was found to be committing criminal acts harsh action would be taken after the decision was made by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. 

Meeting Places Galore

Now, during the beginning of MACUSA, meetings were sporadic and held in random places, such as the ruins of buildings, underground caves, or in the forest to prevent No-Majs from finding out. However, as the wizarding government continued to grow, a permanent meeting place was formed in the Appalachian Mountains. Similar to other magical destinations, this meeting place was surrounded by a number of protective enchantments ensuring No-Majs would be unable to find an opening in the stone wall that led to a cabin in the woods. The MACUSA emblem could only be seen by Secret Keepers (those who have had the secret location confined in them via the Fidelius Charm) and led to an opening in the stone wall that could only be opened by the following phrase: “Iustitia ad id pervenit,” which translates to “Justice will prevail.” Following the exposure of the opening, a witch or wizard would come across an enchanted edifice that served as the first meeting place of MACUSA.

Unfortunately, the Appalachian Mountains became an inconvenient and unmanageable place to have further MACUSA meetings as the majority of wizardkind who came over from Europe settled in larger cities and towns. Furthermore, the deeper incorporation of Scourers into the No-Maj population made tracking them increasingly difficult since the aurors were so far removed from the situations. At the time, however, moving the meeting place was only supported by three out of the twelve aurors, as only MACUSA members attended the meetings and they could Apparate there without trouble. It was the third MACUSA president, Thornton Harkaway, who was able to convince a majority of the members to move their meeting place to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1760, the final decision was made to move the meeting place to one of the most populated colonies in North America at the time. It was also the colony with the second highest population of wizarding criminals, which allowed the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to keep a closer eye on wizarding criminal activities, including those of the Scourers. 

 Despite having the DMLE and other members of MACUSA meeting at his home, President Harkaway had a secret - one that endangered the hundreds of Muggles living in Williamsburg in addition to the wizarding community. Although Harkaway was an auror, he is credited with plenty of questionable actions unbefitting a wizard meant to shroud the wizarding world in secrecy, the most well-known incidents revolving around the breeding of Crups. What Harkaway failed to understand was that although Crups are docile and loyal around wizardkind, the same cannot be said about their interactions with No-Majs. In 1763, Harkaway’s Crup pack attacked several No-Majs who, apart from being terrified and quite hurt, were only able to bark for the next 48 hours due to unpredictable reactions between their blood and Crup saliva. This severe breach of the International Statute of Secrecy by the MACUSA president led to his swift resignation and relocation of MACUSA headquarters to Baltimore, Maryland where it remained until 1776. It might be interesting to note that Williamsburg, Virginia was the first city in the United States of America to have a psychiatric hospital - something a number of magihistorians attribute to the Harkaway fiasco (among other breaches that affected No-Majs).

After Harkaway’s resignation, the members of MACUSA elected Able Fleming as the next president due to his significant efforts in the management of wizarding criminals in Maryland cities. President Fleming’s first few years in office were fairly peaceful and a number of wizarding criminals were caught during this time, but it was the tension between the American colonists and No-Majs that made things uncomfortable. For those who have been exposed to No-Maj history, you may remember an event known as the Boston Massacre, which occurred in 1770. For those who are not familiar, let me briefly explain. Before this time, the Muggle governing body in England had passed a number of restrictive laws to defray the imperial expenses in the colonies, known as the Townshend Acts, on the people in the Americas that restricted their freedom, such as taxation of stamps, tea, and other common, popular items. This infuriated the colonists as they felt their liberties were being taken away and thus, the tension that led to what is known as the American Revolution began. To make a long story short, British troops had been sent over at the request of other British sentries in the Americas due to harassment by the colonists and in order to enforce these Townshend Acts in the 13 colonies. However, this led clashes between civilians and soldiers, and one of the most bloody was the Boston Massacre. To our understanding, though even No-Maj historians debate the exact events, a number of colonists heckled British soldiers and out of irritation one yelled out a curse (of the non-magical variety) including the word “fire” which then led British soldiers to fire into the crowd,  killing five colonists and injuring three. Further fights broke out among the colonists and soldiers because of this, leaving the death toll at 11.

Now, what I just described above is recounted in No-Maj history, but some magihistorians are certain that this event was not as random as No-Majs would believe. It is believed that, in order to sow discord and either kill or out wizarding targets, one Scourer magically tampered with the British’s guns. Thus, it is believed that the accidental shot fired during the Boston Massacre was actually caused by a magically-induced malfunction. Sadly, this not only led to the deaths of 11 individuals, as previously discussed, but also began a revolution that killed 6800 people on both sides and cut the American wizarding population by 25%. Further, the chaos it called offered excellent cover for the Scourers to disappear into. 

As you can imagine, wizardkind grew very cautious with the war and tension and thus, MACUSA made the decision to move to Washington in 1776. However, President Fleming retired from his position partly due to the move, but also because he wished to make a stand with his fellow colonists in the war. Many of the witches and wizards in both Maryland and Virginia followed his lead, valiantly fighting on the sidelines in the Revolutionary war using tactics that led to the success of many battles in the future. With Fleming’s retirement, Elizabeth McGilliguddy, Head of the International Relations department within MACUSA was elected as the next president for her mediation skills, which many believed would be needed given the war they were facing. For President McGilliguddy, this meant holding what is now known as the Country or Kind debate, alluded to just moments aso. The tension - personal, political, and ethical - weighed upon many in the magical community and thus, this debate was attended by such a large crowd that the Great Meeting Chamber had to be expanded in order to accommodate those who wished to attend. Yet, despite the increase in size, hundreds were still turned away from the historic moment. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss whether MACUSA should support the wizarding community or their country - of which they were an integral part - in the fight for liberation from the British Muggle government. As with any debate there were multiple sides, which I have detailed for you below.

 

Pro-interventionists argued that by involving themselves they could save lives and likely push the war towards a favorable ending, one that included freedom from British Muggle government. After all, hadn’t they originally come to America to escape the religious oppression and laws that allowed witch trials to originally occur? 

 

Anti-interventionists believed, however, that the wizarding community would be exposed if they intervened, breaking the Statue of Secrecy and placing the global wizarding community in danger. It is here we see a classical case of patriotism vs. nationalism - love and respect for what the community has given us versus loyalty and dedication to the cause of freedom to which everyone, magical and No-Maj has a right. Due to the fact that there was the potential for a Statue of Secrecy breach, MACUSA reached out to the British Ministry of Magic for advice in addition to seeing if they were going to take the side of the British. The Ministry of Magic shortly replied, “Sitting this one out.” Disgruntled by the nonchalant attitude on such an important topic, President McGilliguddy responded curtly, “Mind that you do,” and ultimately made the decision that MACUSA would not directly intervene, though she stressed that individuals had a right to their own decisions so long as no wizarding law -- including the Statute of Secrecy -- was broken in the process. 


Rappaport's Law

Some of you may find the desire to help No-Maj during the Revolutionary War odd. Isn’t there a strict segregation of No-Maj and wizardingkind in North America? While this is true, this came later, and is the fault of one witch in particular, Dorcus Twelvetrees, who committed the largest breach of the Statute of Secrecy to date. Born to a wizarding family in 1779, just three years after the Country or Kind debate, Dorcus made the fatal mistake of befriending and becoming romantically involved with Bartholomew Barebone whom she met at a neighbourhood picnic. Utterly smitten with the harmless No-Maj, Dorcus performed a number of “little tricks” for him and when he began asking more questions, she revealed critical information about the wizarding community such as the location of Ilvermony, location of the headquarters of MACUSA, information regarding the International Confederation of Wizards, and how the wizarding community endeavoured to hide itself from the non-magical world. 

For anyone who has been paying attention this year, the name of Dorcus’s lover ought to be setting alarms off in your head. Bartholomew was a descendent of the Barebone family line known to be Scourers, meaning that he vehemently believed magic and its users were evil. After persuading her to reveal as much as she would about the wizarding world, Bartholomew stole her wand and distributed leaflets of the wizarding addresses Dorcus had revealed, sending letters to important No-Majs prompting investigation of “evil cults within the colonies.” Keeping in mind that many Scourers held high positions in the No-Maj government, you can imagine how destructive this was for the magical community. Mr. Barebone’s obsession with proving the existence of the wizarding community led him to become a vigilante who shot a group of eight No-Maj he wrongly assumed to be MACUSA employees outside of their headquarters. Though he was arrested by No-Maj authorities, the damage was inconceivable and to this day, we are unsure of whether everyone involved with Mr. Barebone was Obliviated. Though, as you can imagine, neatly pulling off such a feat was impossible at this time, and many slipped through the cracks, which explains why some current Scourer families are so knowledgeable about the wizarding community to this day.

 

The Twelvetrees-Barebone incident, more commonly known as the curse-crossed love affair, led to the creation and passage of Rappaport’s Law in 1790 under President Emily Rappaport. This law led to absolute segregation between the No-Maj and wizarding communities. To help you understand how limiting this was, I have included an excerpt from the legislation below from section 4, paragraph 3, lines 7-14 : 

4.3.07-.10 In order to protect all members of the North American wizarding community, it is henceforth ordered that all members of the wizarding community, whether they be adult, child, or being, are hereby banned from befriending, marrying, or interacting with any No-Maj or Muggle in an unnecessary manner other than what is required for daily tasks.

4.3.011-.14 To enforce limitations of these interactions, any member of the wizarding community who associates with No-Majs or Muggles in the aforementioned ways will be arrested and sentenced to a minimum of 50 years, executed, or Obliviated of all magical knowledge dependent upon the severity of the infraction.

I’ve brought a copy of a commentary on Rappaport’s Law from my collection if anyone would like to borrow it to learn more. All I ask is you return it safely to me. But, I’ve gotten off topic, back to the lesson! As you can see, there were very serious repercussions for breaking Rappaport’s Law and other actions were taken to ensure conformity with the law including that until the age of seventeen, no witch or wizard was to have access to a wand within the home or in public, and that witches and wizards who were in the process of schooling were only permitted to have their wands on Ilvermony’s campus. If the International Statute of Secrecy was not enough to segregate the non-magical and wizarding communities, Rappaport’s Law certainly drove such ideology into the thoughts of many witches and wizards. The American wizarding community, more so than any other, was driven underground and created the largest divide between the wizarding communities of Europe and America - two governments who disagreed about the severity of the new law. In Europe, the Ministries of Magic often cooperated and communicated with their Muggle counterparts in ways that did not break the Statute of Secrecy, but in the United States, MACUSA was completely independent of the No-Maj government, which lead many witches and wizards to view their laws as hostile, limiting, and not worthy of following.


Merlin’s beard, I have kept you all too long! Next time I go over, I expect one of you to interrupt me and tell me you’ve got other places to be. Hurry up or I’ll be hearing from the other professors about how late you were. Make sure to grab your homework on the way out!

Original lesson written by Professor Samuel Becker
Image credits here, here, here, here, and here

We have made our way around the globe throughout your studies here at Hogwarts, but it is time to return to the home of the Olmec and Maya - the Americas! During your first year of N.E.W.T. studies, we will study North America and South America, looking into the history of the indigenous people of both continents, progression of magical civilization, magical impact in famous wars, the Magical Congress of the United States of America, and South American Ministries as well. Buckle up, it’s going to be a whirlwind of a year!
Course Prerequisites:
  • HOM-OWL

Enroll
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